That’s the view of the BNF’s senior nutrition scientist Bridget Benelam in this exclusive video for FoodManufacture.co.uk.
She also said guidance from the UK government for women to take daily supplements of folic acid and vitamin D is ignored by many women, therefore food firms should provide these nutrients within the products they sold.
‘A very positive thing’
“We know, although the advice is there to take supplements, that many women don’t actually take them,” claimed Benelam. “The more industry can do to provide those nutrients in women’s diets, obviously within safety margins, that can be a very positive thing.”
She added that as 50% of pregnancies were unplanned, it was important that women were encouraged to think about their diet, even when they were not planning on becoming pregnant.
According to the findings of the Task Force Report ̶ Nutrition and Development: short and long-term consequences for health ̶ a biological link between women’s health and conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in their children in later life.
The Report also highlighted that almost half of all women of child-bearing age in England are overweight or obese.
Benelam said Britain was dealing with an obesity epidemic that was “very difficult” to tackle.
“Once women are pregnant they are advised not to diet, so really the idea is to address the problem before women become pregnant in the first place,” said Benelam. “The idea is to enter pregnancy with a healthy BMI [body mass index]; however we know a lot of women entering pregnancy are either overweight or obese.”
She added that the ideal time to target women to lose weight was between pregnancies.